In 2012, Tyler Perry and Lionsgate Entertainment were sued by an author claiming that the plot for Good Deeds was actually stolen from her book, Bad Apples Can Be Good Fruit; Lil Wayne unsuccessfully sued Quincy Jones III for using unlicensed music from Wayne’s album Tha Carter III in a documentary on the rapper and was forced to pay Jones $2.2 million for blocking the release of the documentary; the producers of the anti-Obama film, 2016: Obama’s America, sued each other claiming misappropriation of funds and broken contracts; a class action suit was filed against Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios and affiliated entities for breach of contract, unfair business practices and for not paying some employees the wages they allege were due; Paramount Pictures and director John Singleton reached a settlement to end litigation stemming from a 2005 deal for Hustle & Flow; and the producers of nineties sitcom Sister Sister sued the series’ accounting firm for mismanaging funds.
And those are just some of the headline stories.
Whether it is a dispute between partners or a full blown litigation, the hassle and headache caused by these legal disputes can often be a significant roadblock for an artist’s creative endeavors. This year I will be working with Shadow and Act on a series of guest posts addressing the many legal issues artists should consider as they bring life to their creative projects and share them with a mass audience.
From fair use to idea attribution to trademarking names to contract law and partnership structure, I will address the legal topics important for all artists to consider.
So… who am I to speak on the subject?
I am an attorney practicing with a midsize firm specializing in entertainment law in New York. My practice focuses on trademark, copyright, false advertising, marketing, privacy and business torts and I have represented clients in a variety of fields, including Internet, film, music, sports, and telecommunications. Outside of the office, I am the co-chair for the Metropolitan Black Bar Association’s Intellectual Property and Technology Committee; from time to time I may enlist some members of the committee to weigh in on the issues we will address here.
A self-described film fanatic and social networking addict, I try to stay on top of the issues affecting artists creating work in traditional mediums, as well as in the digital space. I look forward to hearing from Shadow and Act’s readers on the topics they would like to see addressed in this column.
Of course, nothing here should be construed as legal advice and all of my opinions are my own, and not representative of the position of my firm.